How Somatic Rib Release techniques can help with Back Pain

The combination of stress, a sedentary lifestyle and being easily available via social media, email and text messaging has created a low to medium level of pressure for people globally. In today’s blog we are going to consider an area of the body which is impacted by these factors and is often forgotten, yet it holds a great deal of tension and contributes towards headaches, neck, shoulder and back pain.

The Ribs

Your rib cage is an amazing part of your body. The rib cage has been designed to protect your vital organs from damage. A human ribcage consists of 24 ribs and 12 of your vertebrae are part of the workings of this area. The rib cage provides attachments for the muscles of your neck, chest, upper abdomen and back. Between each rib you have intercostal muscles. With every breath, your rib cage should expand by 3-5 cm.

However with the scenario I addressed at the beginning of this blog, the intercostal muscles (between the ribs) can become tight due to shallow breathing. Shallow breathing can result from ongoing stress and anxiety, pain, poor posture, limited movement and activity. When the intercostals become tight, they impact on the amount of movement, shock absorbency and level of muscle tension we hold in our body. The amount of movement produced with every inhalation can become very small. This in turn impacts on the level of tension in your neck and shoulders.

What can you do to address these issues?

Its very common to hear advice such as “lie on a foam roller and stretch out your pecs” or “stand up alongside a door, place your arm at 90 degrees and stretch your pecs.” Although this may create temporary relief, it is only addressing a symptom of neck and shoulder tightness/pain, not the root cause. In order to ease pain and reduce tightness in the neck, shoulders and pecs, we need to think globally. The neck, shoulders and pecs are impacted by the muscle tightness and rigidity in your rib cage. Unless you release muscle tightness through your rib cage, the neck, shoulder and pec tightness will continue to resurface. The ribs need to move freely with increased muscle length in and around the area to allow muscle tension and pressure to ease neck and shoulder discomfort.

When we start to increase movement through the rib cage with specific somatic sequences, we release the six pack muscle which attaches to the base of the breastbone and extends to the pubic bone. Releasing the six pack muscle reduces the hunched over or slumped posture which we see very often nowadays. Somatics will also introduce movement back into your rib cage with specific rib release techniques, which you can learn and do for yourself (available at When we start to soften muscles in and around the rib cage, we increase space between the ribs which allows a person to stand taller and exhibit a proud, open chest. This open and lengthen posture takes pressure off the neck muscles which attach to the first few ribs. Combining rib release somatic movements with specific neck sequences can help take stiffness and pain away from the area. Imagine how your cells, tissues and muscles benefit from this changed posture. You receive more oxygen into your body by increasing your chest and lung capacity with deeper quality breaths. Plus greater mobility through your rib cage allows for greater movement along your spinal column, improving the action of shock absorbency. With improved posture we also have a positive influence on the spinal nerves which feed out and supply different patches of skin, portions of muscle, body systems and organs.

Taking back control of your health and well being

A male client with a stooped posture from working long hours at his desk found that he was struggling with severe neck and shoulder pain, shallow breathing and was very self conscious about his posture. He decided to try Total Somatics because he had tried everything else and was still in pain.

Notice how Total Somatics has transformed his life,

"I'm a 30 year old male who works in an office for long hours. I've been doing Total Somatics now for over a year. Despite initially being sceptical of Somatics and even somewhat reluctant to try it (it was something new to me which I'd never heard of), the benefits it provides become blatantly obvious when you start.

Not only have I found Total Somatics beneficial for my body (it has greatly assisted my posture) but I have also found it very therapeutic for the mind. The breathing component in Total Somatics slows down the nervous system which in turn calms the mind and assists you to think at your best.

I would strongly recommend Total Somatics to anyone. If you're like me you will notice almost immediate improvements."

Would you like to reduce pain in your back, neck and shoulders? Do you find you struggle to breathe deeply? Would you like to breathe deeply and release muscle tension in and around your rib cage? Do you feel your posture is getting worse? Would you like to Improve your posture? Do you feel tight and stiff through your back, neck and shoulders? Would you like to reverse these issues?

I have created The Total Somatics Approach to Health & Wellness Online Program ( so you can learn somatic movement, mindfulness techniques and how to improve your mindset so you can deal with stress, challenges and pain. I have created a video series centred around mindset and mindfulness which will provide a deep level of understanding in the area of Total Somatic Health and Wellness.

Would you like to learn more about Somatics?
Have you downloaded my FREE ebook?
If not, click HERE to obtain your free copy.

Allow me to guide you through the online program which is self paced and you have access to the resources for 6 months. Periodically I will upload new material to keep your practise fresh and varied. Throughout your time online you can contact me for support at and I will help you with your questions and queries.

I look forward to hearing how Somatics has helped you.

Take care,
Heidi Hadley xx

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